Suspected outbreak of anthrax reported in Zambezi and Kunene

A suspected outbreak of anthrax has been reported after 68 goats and sheep died in the Kunene Region and 39 hippopotamus died in the Zambezi Region.

This was confirmed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the Ministry of Health and Social Services in a joint statement availed to the media on Monday.

The statement says the two ministries wish to inform all farmers and the general public about the suspected outbreak of anthrax in livestock at Otjitanga village in Epupa constituency in the Kunene region and in hippopotamus at Lake Liambezi in Muyako village in the Zambezi region.

It says livestock deaths suspected to be caused by anthrax were detected at Otjitanga village since 25 September 2019 and so far, 68 small stock, which includes sheep and goats.

While in the Zambezi region, deaths of hippos at lake Liambezi were detected on 29 August 2019 and so far, 39 hippos out of an estimated population of 110 have died but no cases of suspected anthrax have been reported in livestock residing near the lake, reads the statement.

In human cases, it says the Opuwo district in the Kunene region reported about 104 suspected cases of human anthrax in Otjitanga village in the same constituency after the community of Otjitanga consumed or had close contact with suspected anthrax carcasses of goats and cattle on 09 October 2019.

So far people have been admitted but no death has been reported, it says.

The statement further says that in an unrelated event at Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi Region, a suspected case of anthrax reported 11 cases of people who consumed meat from dead hippos that have died of unknown causes and they have developed lesions on different parts of their bodies.

It says one person was admitted for treatment but has been discharged from the hospital and no deaths have been reported.

It further indicates that the two ministries have taken a one-health approach in response to the two suspected anthrax outbreaks noting that serious measures are being implemented to contain it in terms of Animal Health Act of 2011.

Measures include the restriction on animal movements from within the affected areas while disease investigations are being conducted by the veterinary staff within a radius of 30 kilometres from affected areas in order to establish the full extent of the outbreaks.

It says there will be vaccination of suspected susceptible cattle, sheep and goats around the affected areas while officials from both ministries will conduct a joint awareness campaign in affected areas.

The two ministries have also given prevention measures such as avoiding high-risk activities such as eating meat or coming in direct contact with infected animals or carcasses; use proper personal protective equipment when working with infected animals or carcasses while post-exposure prophylaxis should be taken if exposure occurs.

Source: Namibia Press Agency